Warning: spoilers for Captain America: Civil War are ahead!
Captain America: Civil War’s primary conflict was between its starring heroes over their ideological differences, but as those who’ve seen the movie now know, the true villain of the movie was Helmut Zemo, who masterminded the events leading to the main characters fighting each other. However, he wasn’t the only antagonist the movie included. We were also treated to Captain America and the Avengers battling Brock Rumlow, who was now Crossbones. Despite Frank Grillo hinting last year that Crossbones may be causing more trouble later in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that won’t happen, as he was unceremoniously blown up at the end of the opening act. That may have worked for pushing Captain America: Civil War forward, but in the grand scheme of things, Marvel is going regret killing off Crossbones.
To refresh everyone’s memories, Brock Rumlow was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the leader of STRIKE, the S.H.I.E.L.D. counterterrorism unit that was actually following HYDRA’s orders. At the end of that movie, Rumlow was badly injured when one of the Helicarriers crashed into the Triskelion, but he survived and returned two years later for Captain America: Civil War. By that point, he was leading his own mercenary group as Crossbones, and with a mask covering his disfigured face, he was eager to dish out revenge against Captain America when they crossed paths in Lagos, Nigeria. The other Avengers prevented Crossbones’ men from escaping with the bioweapon, and after some difficulty, Captain America defeated their leader. Desperate for payback, Crossbones activated his explosive vest to take out Steve Rogers, forcing Scarlet Witch to levitate him high above ground. Crossbones was obviously taken out, but the explosion still hit a nearby building, thus kicking off the movie’s main narrative.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is notorious for killing off most of its villains, and Crossbones is the latest evil casualty. Which is a shame, because it feels like we never got to see his full potential. Granted, Rumlow did get a fair amount of action during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but he was just a HYDRA stooge then, not the Crossbones that fans enjoy reading about. The movie could have found another way for Crossbones to be responsible for the collateral damage without biting the dust in the process, like by simply tossing a grenade at Steve Rogers and trying to make a break for it, or setting off a timed explosion somewhere nearby. That way he could have escaped/been imprisoned, leaving him to return/escape in a future movie and cause more trouble.
To make ourselves clear, we’re not suggesting that Crossbones should have returned as a main antagonist. That’s not a slight on Frank Grillo’s acting abilities, it’s just that Crossbones has always worked best when he’s either working for someone else or conducting a small mission on the side, like the Lagos operation. He’s not usually the one plotting these elaborate schemes on his own. Still, imagine if he returned at some point in service to an even bigger villain, like a resurrected Red Skull or the true Mandarin. His skills, from fighting to firearms, make him one of the most dangerous operatives in the world, so any criminal genius would be lucky to have him by their side. HYDRA leadership could confirm this if they weren't all dead.
If the movies didn’t have any room for him, one of the TV shows could have used him for a guest spot. Imagine if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the protagonists trying to track him down before he carried out another terrorist attack. What if he clashed with Frank Castle on The Punisher? The point is that Crossbones is a character than can easily make the jump between media, and if Marvel hadn’t been so quick to snuff him out, he could have been an adversary to many heroes, not just one. Look to the comics for proof. When not fighting Captain America, he’s also battled Daredevil, Spider-Man, Agent Venom and more. Another interesting twist is if, like his comic book counterpart, he was exposed to a version of the Terrigen Mist and was then able to fire energy beams. The only difference is that this ability would have been permanent.
Of course, there’s always the slight possibility that Frank Grillo will reprise Crossbones again, though we don’t believe for a second he survived that explosion. Instead, maybe when Thanos comes to Earth in Avengers: Infinity War, he’ll be one of the many villains resurrected using the power of the Infinity Stones to serve as the Mad Titan’s minion. From there, he could either perish again in the grand battle or make it out alive and continue his criminal activities in Phase Four. Still, we’re not holding our breath for a miraculous return.
What do you think? Did Captain America: Civil War make the right decision killing Crossbones or should he have stayed alive. Let us know what you think in the poll and comments below.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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